Monday, 5 November 2012
Nigerian church in the UK sells blackcurrant squash and olive oil as cure for cancer
Cancer and HIV patients have been told to buy bottles of ordinary blackcurrent squash and olive oil for £14 by a church claiming the blessed goods are a ‘miracle cure’ for their illnesses.
The Victorious Pentecostal Assembly (VPA) sells the over-inflated goods with the claim that once blessed by a pastor they can cure a host of serious health conditions.
Undercover reporters found members of the VPA congregation in Manchester were told that if a terminally-ill person drank a mixture of the specially blessed litre of squash and 500ml bottle of olive oil, which were being sold at double their real value, their ailments would disappear.
A church leader who identified himself as Pastor Mbenga also claimed to have previously cured diabetes and a brain tumour using the concoction. He said the mixture would ‘do what no man can do’ through divine intervention and guaranteed the cancer would be cured.
‘God will take over with divine intervention and the cancer will disappear,’ Pastor Mbenga told the reporters from Manchester Evening News.
The church’s founder, Pastor Alex Omokudu, who lives in a £1.8million mansion in Hornchurch, Essex, has also regularly appeared in television adverts claiming, ‘doctors do not have the answer – we have got the answer. We have got the answer to healing’.
The products sell in several supermarkets for less than £6.
Now a cancer charity has warned the practice is deliberately targeting the vulnerable and could stop patients from seeking proper medical treatment.
He said: ‘It is shocking that anyone could exploit people with cancer in this way.
‘We would encourage anyone affected by cancer to be cautious of any alternative therapies, especially those that claim to be “miracle cures”.
‘If a therapist encourages them to use an alternative treatment instead of conventional medicine prescribed by a qualified doctor, we would also advise caution.’
Dr Michelle Harvie, research dietician at the Genesis Cancer Prevention Centre at University Hospital South Manchester Trust, urged patients to always seek the advice of medical professionals.
She said: ‘When people are suffering from cancer they are often desperate and will seek out alternative or a miraculous cure when it is often the more mundane treatments will do them the most good.
‘The problem is none of this is based on any real evidence, but sufferers are often being told what they want to hear rather than what is medical fact.
‘The sad fact is when someone is suffering from cancer they can often be at their most vulnerable and they want to do something to take control, but it is really important they adhere to treatments planned by their doctors and lead a healthy lifestyle.’
The church opened in Manchester last year and is the first northern base of the VPA, which has three other churches in Hackney, Luton and Barking.
The organisation has previously been fined by Ofcom for making similar claims on its television channel.
Believe TV, which is available on Sky and via the internet, has twice been blasted by the regulator for running promotional campaigns with testimonies from people claiming to have been cured of HIV, cancer and infertility.
The church may also be breaking the law, as any advertisement, including verbal claims, promoting products as treatments or cures for cancer is illegal under the Cancer Act 1939.
Trading standards officers have also been told about the practice and promised to look over the case.
Pastor Mbenga however said he was not aware the church was breaking the law.
He said: ‘It is the word of God, it is in the scriptures that God can heal these illnesses and that is the message we are passing on to people.
‘I wasn’t aware of that law, but we live in a free society and if this is what people believe then people should be free to believe in it and carry out their faith.
‘We have seen divine intervention in the past where people have been healed of terrible diseases and believe that God has the supernatural power to bring about miracles.
‘This is what we believe and we are just trying to help people, trying to help them live a better life by giving them the power through God to make changes in their lives. We are not hurting anyone.’
Victorious Pentecostal Assembly leaders have previously landed in trouble over claims of curing serious illnesses. The church, based in Barking, Essex, was founded in 2004 by Pastor Alex Omokudu.
His wife Patricia is a listed director of The Light Academy which runs religious channel Believe TV from the same address.
The channel has twice been blasted by TV regulator Ofcom for making claims which ‘exploited’ vulnerable viewers.
The channel was first rapped in August 2011 after a broadcast featuring Pastor Omokudu in which people claimed they had been cured of serious illnesses by the church.
One woman said she had collapsed with ‘a tumour in my head’.
A relative added that she had thrown away her cancer medication and purchased “blackcurrant and oil” from the church.
When she then went to hospital for a scan, she claims there was ‘no longer a problem’.
Another man told the audience he was given two years to live with a brain tumour.
The man said he had come to VPA and had been cured with ‘olive oil’ – to which Pastor Omokudu responded: ‘We have got the answer to healing.’
The report concluded ‘there was a material risk that susceptible members of the audience may be exploited by the material broadcast on Believe TV’.
In February this year the channel was fined £25,000 by the regulator for another broadcast featuring Pastor Omokudu.
Source: UK Mail